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Prisoner's rights

Dealing with Oranga Tamariki


What is Oranga Tamariki?

Oranga Tamariki is the part of the New Zealand government that is responsible for making sure children and young people under 18 are safe and protected from abuse and neglect (It used to be called “Ministry for Children”).

Oranga Tamariki is supposed to help families find ways to care for their children – when families can’t care for their children, Oranga Tamariki is supposed to provide care and protection for them.

What if I think my child is in danger at home?

Crimes Act 1961, s 195A

People who are over 18 that know a child abuse is happening in their home (for example, by their partner or parent), must take reasonable steps to protect the child from death, serious harm or sexual assault – for example, calling the police or reporting the crime to Oranga Tamariki (0800 FAMILY – 0508 326 459).

If a person doesn’t take reasonable steps to protect a child from death, serious harm or sexual assault, they are committing a crime and could face up to 10 years in prison.

What if someone complains to Oranga Tamariki about how I’m looking after my child?

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 15, 17

The complaint will be investigated by a social worker and/or the police. As part of the investigation a social worker or a police officer will come and talk to the parents of the child and the family. The social worker or police officer must decide whether or not they believe that the child is in need of care and protection.

If someone complains to Oranga Tamariki about my parenting, can I find out who it was?

No, that person’s name is protected under the Privacy Act.

What should I do if Oranga Tamariki wants to investigate my family?

If Oranga Tamariki is involved, it’s important to work with the Oranga Tamariki social worker, and not to avoid them. Some immediate changes can be made that might help satisfy the Oranga Tamariki social worker that the home is a safe place.

If you think Oranga Tamariki might take your child out of your care, it’s important to see a lawyer as soon as possible, and also to access help and advocacy from an independent local social work service.

Visit your local Community Law Centre to get legal help.

For more detailed information on Oranga Tamariki, see “Dealing with Oranga Tamariki/ Ministry for Children” in the Community Law Manual.

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